A message from the incredibly strong Angelica Beiter about competing in her first ever beauty pageant and coming home with the crown.
How? She was her authentic self. She wasn’t ashamed of any of her battles, and faced them head on with grace and beauty.
We admire you, Angelica. Read her message below.
When you think of a queen, what comes to mind? An image of sheer perfection?A woman who is superior to struggle?
We live in a world where we are encouraged to hide our differences to achieve this superior status. Society has created a stigma that we must all strive for perfection, and anything that is different than that is something to be ashamed of.
And this is the exact stigma I wanted to destroy: By being the ‘not-so-perfect’ pageant queen.
My senior year of high school, which is supposed to be filled with some of the most exciting times of our teenage lives, was filled with hospital rooms and doctors visits. My entire life I have struggled with “odd” medical issues, but never this severe. Doctor after doctor could not figure out why I was so ill, and I in turn continued to miss out on so many memories.
The second half of my senior year I was home schooled, and it took 7 months, 2 surgeries and countless doctors to finally give me a diagnosis. At this point, I couldn’t decide if I should be excited or devastated. I finally knew what I was dealing with and we could try and manage it, but I also was just handed a lifelong battle.
I was diagnosed with a life threatening chronic illness called Hereditary Angioedema. Itonly affects every about 1 in 50,000 which results in only about 4,000 cases in the United States. Trying to adapt to a life filled with new treatments, medications and symptoms feltlike quicksand. Not only was I facing these new obstacles, I was weeks away fromstarting my college career at a new school. I let these struggles overwhelm me, and Istarted to absolutely hate the cards I had been dealt.
Fast forward a couple months, I had been slowly finding what worked best tobalance all aspects of my new life but when people heard my story, they were pityingme. These reactions made me embarrassed to even tell others, because I thought it was something I needed to be ashamed about. On a daily basis, when people hear asad story about someone facing struggles, their immediate response is “I’m so sorry” or“That’s awful”. Although we feel bad about their situation, as someone who deals withthese comments, they only make use feel more ashamed and unaccepted. We shouldbe encouraging people to be proud of what makes them unique, instead of hiding it.There needed to be a change, and I knew the only way that was going to happen was ifI was the one to do it.
I realized no matter how much I despised my diagnosis, it wasn’t going to changeanything. If I was given this obstacle, I knew it I needed to use it for good, and make adifference in this world. My illness used to be something that made me feel excluded, but now I know its something unique that I can use as a tool to educate others aboutchronic illnesses. At this point, I knew I needed to use my story to educate thecommunity, but I didn’t even know where to start.
The Niagara County Peach Queen program that is sponsored by the LewistonKiwanis Club has been around for decades, encouraging young women to advocate forsomething the believe in and volunteer in the community. By chance, I had happened tosee the application online, and knew that it was the perfect opportunity to starteducating the community about chronic illnesses. I honestly didn’t think I even had achance at winning, but I knew I could use the opportunity leading up to the actualcompetition to advocate.
In order to be crowned, there is a one-on-one interview with the judging panel, anonstage speaking portion about the topic you are advocating for, and a final randomizedquestion response. I knew these were all opportunities to spread awareness andeducate the community. Prior to the competition, the group of contestants do volunteerwork in the community alongside of the Kiwanis Club. During this time, I formed somany new relationships and had the opportunity to tell my story, that I knew even if Ididn’t win, I had already started to make a difference.
I am so glad that I not only had this opportunity, but I also was crowned Peach Queen and had a full year to advocate and be active in the community. Throughout the year I held many fundraisers, visited hospitals and volunteered in the community to try and reach as many people as I could.
I find it very important to teach other young adults like myself that we are muchmore than a diagnosis. Our illnesses do not define us, they are merely a small portion ofwhat we have to offer as people. Although achieving a goal with a chronic illness comeswith many more obstacles and may take a little longer, anything is achievable when youset your mind to it. I have personally used this drive to not only run for Peach Queen,but in many other aspects of my life such as college.
Knowing that something is going to be a challenge can often be intimidating, but it also results in a much greater reward when your cross the finish line. Because these goals can sometimes come with more obstacles, it’s important the surrounding community is supportive. Instead of pitying someone or being uncomfortable with people who are different, we must accept that differences are a good thing.
I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be the 2016-17 Niagara County PeachQueen, and prove that we do not need to be perfect to be successful or important. Ihope my time as queen helped others in my position see that not only is it okay to beproud of who you are, but also our goals are still achievable with a little extra work. Afterseeing the difference I made in the community, it has pushed me to continue myjourney, and I am now a proud member of the Lewiston Kiwanis Club, where I plan to continue my journey.
I not only wore my crown with pride, but also my illness.
I believe that is what made me the ‘not-so-perfect’ queen!
So this goes out to anyone that is ashamed of who they are: you were given thislife for a reason, so use it to make a difference.
Embrace the fact that it’s fine TO BE not-so-perfect!